“You look great! You lift weights right? I would love to look like you but I don’t want to bulk up.” Admit it ladies! How many of you have if not verbalized at least have thought about this at some point in your life? I know I have. For years I was dreading to lift weights, especially when training legs, out of fear of bulking up. I was under the false impression that if I concentrate on cardio and light weight reps, I would manage to keep my legs lean as I tend to hold most of my weight in the lower region. It wasn’t until I started competing that my perception changed. We women are not genetically built to “grow” as men do from lifting weights. On the contrary:
Women do not have nearly as much testosterone as men. In fact, according to Bill Kreamer in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, women have about 15 to 20 times less testosterone than men. Because of this, women are not equipped to grow muscle at the level a man does.
Women looked “toned” when they develop the muscles through weight training. Muscle tends to hold more space in the body reducing the amount of fat someone has. This gives the impression of a more toned, well-defined body as the muscles begin to shape, reducing the amount of fat you hold.
Heavy lifting in reality promotes strength not size for women. Most of us have the same goal in mind, we want to look more defined and toned. Without a significant load, the muscle will not change therefore the goal will not be achieved. This leads to disappointment, frustration and ultimately for some, brings about the end of their training experience. From personal experience I can say that ever since I started lifting heavy weights, not only do I look leaner and more toned but my strength has drastically increased. Some women think they will “grow” overnight from heavy lifting. If you do, please CALL ME. I want to do what you do!
Pound for pound, muscle takes up less space than fat (muscle is more dense). “This means I will weigh heavier?” you might think. What this means is that muscle accounts for one-third of a woman’s weight which does affect her metabolic rate (faster) since muscle is metabolically active. In simple English: muscle chews up calories even when you are not in the gym, resulting in the loss of up to 50 calories per pound of muscle, without you even trying.
Bulking up is calorie dependent. I cannot stress it enough! If you eat more than what you burn, you will gain weight and obviously if you eat less, you will lose weight. There must be a balance between your food intake and the caloric exertion in order to achieve a lean, toned and above all, a healthy physique. The most obvious question is: “What should I eat?” They key is to eat 5 to 6 balanced meals a day. It sounds like a lot of work and maybe the first time you attempt to do this it is, but if you allow this to become a part of your daily routine, it will soon turn into a healthy habit. Some foods that should be included in you daily diet are: oatmeal, whole grains, eggs, nuts (walnuts, almonds and cashews), lean meat (chicken, turkey, tuna, tilapia), salmon, green vegetables instead of red as the latter tend to be high in sugar and oils (olive or macadamia nut oil).
Muscle doesn’t turn into fat if you stop weight training. Many women fear that if they build muscle and at some point need to go off their training program, it will turn into fat. This is equivalent to saying that gold turns into brass. Fat and muscle are two totally different things. Any person that stops training usually ceases to follow a diet program as well. This causes a drop in the metabolic rate in the body. Due to the inactivity, muscle is lost and combined with poor eating habits the impression is given that the person’s muscle has turned into fat. In reality, muscle is lost and fat is accumulated.
Weight lifting helps decrease the risk of osteoporosis. When combining weight training with an adequate amount of calcium, can help minimize the risk of osteoporosis.
You can decrease back pain and arthritis pain through weight training. With lifting, not only do you increase your strength, you also build stronger connective tissues and have more joint stability.
Your self-image will improve and your confidence levels will increase. Self explanatory don’t you think? You will love the way you look! Your overall mood will improve as you naturally increase serotonin levels in your body.
Weight training does not have to be complex and time-consuming. Many women feel that they need to spend hours in the gym daily in order to achieve their goals. The truth is you can create a training regimen to fit your lifestyle. All you need to do to see results is stick with it.
Hire a professional. When you have decided you are ready to begin, it would be wise to hire a certified trainer to get you started on a program and help you ease your way into weight lifting. Many women feel “lost” as they have no idea where to begin and how to proceed. Hiring a certified fitness expert is the safest way to begin a weight training routine. There are also a myriad of books on the subject of weight lifting where you can find different training routines, exercises, training techniques and answers to all of your questions. Some great books include: Strength Training for Women by Joan Pagano and Total Strength Training for Women by AmazinLethi, which can be found online.
Ladies, the time to change your perception about weight lifting is here. There has been extensive research on the matter that has proven time and again that our fear, and I include myself in this as this used to be my fear at some point, of bulking up from heavy lifting is simply unfounded. Give it a chance since it might work for you. It did for me!